How 9 Couples Keep the Fire Going

By Leslie E. Royal

Have you ever looked at a couple and wondered what their secret is? Relationships are hard work, so how do they do it so effortlessly?

We asked nine African American couples, who honor their love 365 days a year, to share their inspirational stories of romance.

Their love is deep, and it is real. If someone ever wrote “The Book of Love”, each of these amazing couples could fill an entire chapter.

Find out what Black Love means to them—and how they keep the sparks flying and the passion sizzling! 

9 African-American couples together at different events

Aaron Hawkins, Jr. & Mia Michaelle Blakes Hawkins

What does “Black Love” mean to you? 

“It is having each other’s back at all times whether good, bad, happy, or sad. It’s a very healthy, extremely kind, respectful, and unconditional Agape love that resonates in our daily walk with Christ and one another and can be recognized by others.” 

It was January 1980 and both Aaron and Mia happened to be spectators at a Baton Rouge, LA high school basketball tournament. But the game wasn’t all that Mia silently observed. As Aaron strolled across the court in her direction, she queried a friend about him.

Turns out, he was the brother of her friend’s boyfriend. Mia fell for him in the midst of that introduction. She was 14, and he was 17.  They had so much in common including sports. An exceptional basketball player, a few years later, he trained her daily during the summer.

He would tenderly kiss her, toss her the ball, and they would fiercely compete. When he left to go off to Grambling State on a football scholarship, they realized they were hopelessly devoted and madly in love.

How do you keep the fire going? We always put each other before anything or anyone, except the Lord.  We renew our vows to remind  ourselves of our commitment to God and to one another.   We don’t leave home without a kiss and saying, “I love you”.  We hold hands while watching television and cuddle during the night. That, Mia says, is her favorite part.

African-Amerian couple in red and black suits, in front of tree backdrop kissing

Pastor Malcolm Jefferson and Dr. Amelia Jefferson

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“It is the companionship of two people working toward personal goals and goals shared as a couple. It means being each other’s greatest supporter, practicing understanding, learning how to better love your significant other—and managing hectic lives to put first things first.”

This beautiful love story began when a mutual friend played Cupid and set Amelia and Malcolm up on a blind date.

In 1998, one of her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority sisters shared that they are both very good, kind people, have great personalities, and would make for a wonderful couple.

She lived in the Windy City of Chicago, and he lived in Atlanta, The Big Peach. How did they fall in love? They started conversing on the phone daily, developing a solid friendship—and a sky-high phone bill. After dating for over a year, she moved to Atlanta to be closer to him. On Christmas Day, in the presence of her family, the nicest, most kind man she ever met proposed of her.

This lovely couple, the pastor of Kingdom Fellowship Christian Church and his first lady, have been married for 19 years and are great examples for their community.

How do you keep the fire going? The greatest way is to have date night, a yearly family meeting and to have our own identity within our marriage.

African-American couple dressed up at different events

Edward Floyd Johnson & Sylathia Denise Johnson

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“It’s two people who care for each other unconditionally.  We nurture and support each other in sickness and in health. We are here for each other in the good times and bad times and always will uplift one another.”

In 1992, Sylathia and her coworker decided to go to the Elks Social Club to wind down and relax after work.

Edward sauntered over to her table, introduced himself, and asked her to dance. They danced and talked the night away.

He walked her home, and then phoned when he returned home, and they engaged in deep conversation until 6:00 a.m. the following morning.

After dating for a year, Sylathia and Edward were strolling in the park with their daughter, Tina. Edward turned to her and said, “I love you. Will you marry me?” They were married the following year in 1994.

How do you keep the fire going? We keep the fire going by spending quality time together. We have date night on Friday. We may go to dinner or just have dinner and a movie at home.

Once a year we plan a week-long cruise to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary.

black couple looking at eachother, in front of paradise backdrop, smiling at camera

Tremayne Kelly & Katrina Kelly

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“Tremayne: There’s no such thing as black love. When you do what you can to make your friend, partner and confidante happy, that’s love. Trina: I’m not sure that love has a color. However, I know statistics would lead you to believe that love among black couples doesn’t exist. Love is an action word and I feel it transcends color.”

This loving couple met at a birthday party/blind date in 2011. While dating, they spent lots of time together as a couple—and with Katrina’s 16-year-old son. Katrina loved so many things about Tremayne, but she also saw that he cared deeply for the most important person in her life…and that made her love him all the more.

Before she stepped into his life, everything seemed to go along randomly, without a clear plan. But when they got together, she gave him purpose and he began to formulate a plan for his life.  In 2012, Tremayne and Katrina were joined together as husband and wife.

How do you keep the fire going? We maintain communication, scheduled date nights and show impromptu acts of kindness.

African-American couple at different events together

Daryl Madison & Jackie Madison

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“It means sharing each other’s dreams and embracing the journey together. We are truly a TEAM!! We have a couple’s vision board. It states that we want to work with and give back to our community by promoting physical fitness, health, and wellness.”

It was second semester at Clark Atlanta University in 1987.  Daryl approached Jackie in the cafeteria and asked where she was from. When she responded, “South Carolina,” he readily shared that he was too.  Actually, he wasn’t. His Dad was. But it was a great conversation starter.

This very physically fit, dynamic duo dated for 14 years and married in 2001. They work together to make his signature Chair-A-Cise Exercise Weight Loss program a household name. She is also the CEO of Glamour Girl Fitness, Inc.

Their affirmations are, “We will be the Next Big Thing! We are a High-Powered Fitness Couple! We will be known as Atlanta’s Premiere Fitness Couple!”

How do you keep the fire going? We do so by just doing us, being there for one another, and doing things we love together. We enjoy working out and relaxing together.

African-American couple kissing, smiling, getting married, and at gym

Dr. Rodney Mason & Dr. Johnecia Mason

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“It’s loving your entire black self from the inside to the outside! It is seeing African Americans involved in healthy, loving, and committed relationships!”

In 2011, it was the God-given vision of a friend that brought Rodney and Johnecia together. Both Rodney and Johnecia are individuals of great faith who are dedicated to church ministry, want the best that life has to offer and believe that higher education is paramount.

When they were introduced by their dear friend, they discovered they were already connected on Facebook—through their Greek letter organizations. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and she is a part of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Before getting engaged a year later, the couple held intense, very meaningful  conversations. They fell in love when they realized they could be vulnerable with each other. Throughout their four-year marriage, they have supported each other during the most challenging of times.

How do you keep the fire going? We keep the fire going by continuing to date one another! We make it a point to plan dates and “our” time, even when we are vacationing with our family! We still flirt with each other, and we always give each other love taps!

black couple getting married, sitting together, and on a boat

Cedric Mixon & Holly Lane Mixon

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“It means building an unbreakable bond from shared experiences and cultural understanding. Black Love is a commitment to protect the heart, mind, and dreams of your partner. Your relationship creates a shelter for the two of you to be at ease with each other, to cheer accomplishments, reassure in times of doubt, lift up when discouraged, and motivate one another to personal bests.”

Back in their hometown of St. Louis, Holly and Cedric met at a fashion-show audition. They both made it and glamorously walked the runway. Four years later, in 2007, they were walking down the aisle. She fell in love with Cedric’s warm, caring eyes, his contagious optimism, sharp wit, and lean 6’3″ frame.

He fell in love with Holly’s kind heart, sense of humor, creative spirit, and desire to unearth the beauty of foreign cities. They adore the vibrant colors and architecture of Barcelona and the elusive Northern Lights in Iceland.

How do you keep the fire going? Traveling to other countries and trying new things together keeps our fire going. Each excursion brings renewed excitement for our relationship. Our 2019 travel plans include Colombia, Ghana and possibly Rome.

black couple on boat and at a beach

Sean Pyle & LaShawn Pyle

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“Black love or love in general means having mutual respect for another. It’s important to pray together and remain laser-focused on keeping God first.”

This loving relationship initially began when LaShawn and Sean met at a Human Resource Conference in 2000. After reconnecting 14 years later, they realized they had a lot in common and most importantly, were equally yoked.

Married in 2016, both love the Lord and are active in their local community. They take joy in serving others through missionary work, commit to working out regularly, enjoy traveling, and are members of The Divine Nine. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. and she is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

How do you keep the fire going?  We continue to date and spend quality time together. We go to book lectures, dinner, the movies, plays, concerts, bowling, and museums.

black couple sitting together, at Christmas party, in front of building in summer

David Wayne Dukes & Phylisha La’Toia Thompson

What does “Black Love” mean to you?

“We don’t really put color to our love. But we consider our love to be an Agape kind of love. The love is so great, we want our future kids to be proud of who they are. Our love is strong enough to go through turbulent times and wide enough to love and welcome everyone. So, we would say black love to us is to know how to be your authentic self and love everyone as equals.”

David and Phylisha met when she went to Jacksonville Beach for her birthday weekend. It was Ladies Night at the spot that she and her girlfriends selected.

She was looking extra cute and sassy. As she sashayed by David’s place of employment, he yelled, “Hey Shorty! Come holla at ya boy!”

She turned to see a man who looked about 10 feet tall. Her response was a coy, “Maybe.” She came back later, feeling as she would say, “birthday good,” and exchanged numbers with him as she giggled to his humorous banter. He texted her the next day, and she’s been on a spectacular, dating roller coaster ride with her 6’9″ beau ever since.

How do you keep the fire going? We have date night and try to travel as often as we can. And it helps that we are trying for a “Baby Dukes.”

African-American couple smiling, giving eachother kisses

A big thank you to the nine couples who shared their inspiring stories with us. While we all have “mountain highs” and a few “valley lows,” faith, and unwavering commitment to one another gets us through.

In addition to sharing their lives with the men they love, there is an opportunity for women to do something special for themselves and others. Check out our companion article here for ideas:  Self-Love and Self-Less Love: Five Things to Do to Love on You (And Others)”

 Tony Royal and Leslie E. Royal

Our contributor, Leslie E. Royal, and her husband Tony Royal have been married for 32 years. Here is their narrative: God is at the center of our lives.  Black Love means having the same passion today as we experienced when we began dating.

Actually, even more so. It’s experiencing moments of loving intimacy like holding hands and gazing in each other’s eyes—even in the presence of our children, family or the company of a group. It’s creating sweet pet names every few months, saying I love you and sharing a kiss several times a day…smiling at the mention of the other person’s name, and unwaveringly supporting the goals and aspirations of one another.

Conversely, it is not seeing eye-to-eye on some things and having disagreements over literally nothing, but letting it go because we are just tired of the battle.  It’s seeing and understanding the human imperfections in each other while celebrating and appreciating the godly perfections.

We keep the fire going by creating exciting, fun, and unique outings, activities and international travel excursions. At the same time, we cherish having quiet time at home. Most importantly, we are intentional in falling in love all over again daily.

black couple-woman in white and black polka dot dres with red wrap and man in black suit

Leslie E. Royal is a Lifestyle, Travel, and Fashion Contributor for Ashro. An international freelance writer, her articles have appeared in Upscale, ESSENCE, Black Enterprise, FORTUNE.com and The Wall Street Journal.

black woman with short wavy reddish hair smiling in pink shirt
Leslie E. Royal

2 Responses to How 9 Couples Keep the Fire Going

  1. LaTanya M Curtis April 22, 2019 at 11:21 am #

    The articles were clear and precise, I enjoyed learning what makes couples and relationships work. Out of all the comments #1. Always have the Lord at the center of your relationship. #2. Place each other first and everyone else will fall in line. #3. Have a date night and never forget what made you attractive to each other. #4. Never let a day go by without telling, or showing your spouse that you love them.
    I loved reading All the articles, please keep this going.

    • Ashro May 20, 2019 at 2:02 pm #

      Thanks LaTanya! We love to hear from our fans/readers/customers! 🙂

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